Name: Ryan Griglak
Website: Not listed
1.How do you define freedom of the press?
The right of the press to obtain and publish information and/or opinions without fear of government censorship or punishment.
2. List three action items you’d introduce to guarantee the people’s right to know?
There are laws regarding how public meetings are held which to my knowledge have not been violated by the district. In any event, I would like to see the district make an effort to have more material and information available online. I would also like to see the district provide more information via mailers (included with billing statements) in regards to ongoing issues which affect members. In some instances, like the recent rate changes, I would like to see invitations and/or questionnaires sent to individual members to try and increase the participation rate at board meetings.
3. Describe the biggest mistake of your professional career. What lessons did you learn?
The biggest mistake of my career had to do with communication between a client and a contractor. At the time I recognized a disconnect in the discussion and even though I attempted to clarify the information between the parties, I did not realize a lack of understanding still existed. I learned to follow-up with people to ensure that they understand the issues rather than assume they do.
4. Describe the greatest accomplishment of your professional career. Who is your mentor and why?
My greatest professional accomplishment was thinking outside the box on a multi-million dollar Front Range storm sewer project. The city had flooding issues in a historic downtown area which were difficult to reduce appreciably and required a substantial financial investment. The proposed solution also had the potential to be economically devastating to the surrounding businesses. In the end, we mostly eliminated the flooding for slightly more than their original budget while significantly reducing both the financial and construction impacts to the local businesses. The professional engineers I have worked for over the years. Each of them went out of their way to encourage my development and to acknowledge my contributions.
5. If elected, what would be your top priorities?
My top priorities would be:
• Review the new rate structure and the underlying methodology to ensure that the rates reflect actual use
• Work to improve the relationship between the sanitation district and the city
• Work to improve communication and the exchange of information between the district and its members
• Review future project priorities to ensure that improvements are completed as efficiently as possible.
6. In examining the district’s total budget, which line items would you support for greater funding and which line items would you recommend be cut? Why?
I think it is unfair to look at an individual line item in a budget and reach the conclusion that it needs to be cut without having a thorough understanding of the details behind the figures. I can say with certainty that line improvements and upgrades are of critical importance to both maintaining existing service as well as to accommodate future development and should be funded as much as possible.
7. What are your thoughts on the newly adopted rate structure, and what measures would you propose to ensure customers were billed fairly and accurately?
There are a number of concerns any time billing is based upon equivalents or averages for both residential and commercial users. In this case, the single family use was determined from a national AWWA average. This use added 30% to the average local single family user. This average impacts residential and commercial rates since they are now tied by utilizing the single-family equivalent methodology. These single-family equivalents used to determine commercial rates are also based upon national averages, not historic use.
Many businesses in Cortez are highly seasonal and do not have a steady demand for their services over the course of the year. With the new structure these seasonal businesses may have had their rates disproportionately increased. The same could be true for retirees living on a fixed income or families whose water use was nowhere near the AWWA average. It may be beneficial to have on-season and off-season rates for seasonal businesses and agencies to better reflect actual use.
An additional concern is that the current rate structure places no value on water conservation practices for businesses or residences. In our area, where water resources are precious, there should be an incentive to reduce overall water use.
8. Is working and partnering with outside agencies important? Why or why not?
It is vital that the sanitation district work with outside agencies, especially the city. Water and sewer service are normally tied together and it is rare that they are not handled under the same body or agency. There is a potential for achieving significant cost savings by collaborating with the city to take advantage of overlapping resources. Collaboration could also assist in the pursuit of obtaining grant funding for improving the aged, damaged and undersized lines without implementing additional rate increases for members.
9. List the district’s top three needs, and what steps would you take to address those concerns?
Credibility with members as a result of the rate increases, a stronger relationship with other agencies (especially the city) and continued improvements to the existing infrastructure.
The impacts of the rate increases need to be evaluated to assess if there are unanticipated problems or inconsistencies and determine how best to correct any issues that are identified. A better working relationship needs to be re-established between the district and the city. More collaboration would have the potential to eliminate/reduce duplication of expenses (i.e. billing, mailings, software, etc.) which would free up more of the budget for infrastructure improvements. Collaboration would also increase the likelihood of obtaining grant funding for improvements to the district’s infrastructure. Better communication (via print and web) with members in regards to what the district is doing or what changes are being implemented and why would also be beneficial.
10. List your expertise and/or qualifications that set you apart from other candidates.
I am a professional engineer licensed in Colorado who has 20-years of experience (11 years locally). I have worked both for and with several municipalities on sewer projects throughout Colorado and have a thorough understanding of many of the issues currently facing the sanitation district. I have a great relationship with the city staff that would hopefully facilitate a better working relationship between the two agencies.